More than 1,500 illegal vapes and illicit tobacco seized in Tower Hamlets

Op Stromboli

More than 1,500 illegal single use vapes and illicit tobacco have been seized during a two-day operation in Tower Hamlets.

Officers from Tower Hamlets Council’s Trading Standard’s Team carried out two days of action on 13 and 14 March, seizing cigarettes and vapes worth more than £11,500 and 165 pouches/tins of smokeless chewing tobacco and 1.2kg of hand rolling tobacco which breached the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016.

Trading Standards Officers had the assistance of a tobacco detection dog provided by Wagtail Specialist Search Dogs.

During the operation, officers also found suspected unsafe cosmetic products, including a Surma eye liner, which may contain substantial amount of lead or toxic metals and could cause blood poisoning.

All products were seized for further examination and investigations are now pending against the retailers.

The illegal cigarettes and tobacco products seized included suspected counterfeit and cheap foreign-smuggled products that breach Trading Standards legislation and are also non-duty paid so they cannot be legally sold in the UK.

The contents of all cigarettes are harmful and contain around 4,000 different chemicals, including known carcinogens. However, as the ingredients of illegal tobacco are unknown, they may contain further dangerous ingredients.

A large number of vapes which contained a tank capacity that exceeded the legal limit were seized. Each vape was equal to the nicotine content of around 233 cigarettes and didn’t meet statutory labelling and information requirements.

Trading Standards Officers have advised customers that they should check the labelling on beauty products, to ensure they contain a list of ingredients, name and address of the manufacturer or supplier and a batch number.

Lutfur Rahman, Executive Mayor of Tower Hamlets, said: “Those involved in dealing in illegal tobacco may be encouraging people to smoke by providing a cheap source, including young children.”

“It is important to clamp down on this activity as it also brings crime into our neighbourhoods, which is why our Trading Standards Officers are proactive in disrupting this illicit trade. There is also an impact on legitimate businesses who are trading legally.

“Traders need to know they will face prosecution if they choose to deal in these illegal and unsafe products.”

Posted on Tuesday 14th May 2024